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Gupta Draws Fire:

Who would have thought that President-elect Obama's plan to nominate Dr. Sanjay Gupta as the next Surgeon General would be so controversial? Paul Krugman thinks Gupta wrongly criticized Michael Moore's film Sicko and Chris Mooney didn't like Gupta's sensationalist coverage of the Raelians' cloning claims. More signficantly, Rep. John Conyers is seeking to line up opposition to a Gupta nomination among House Democrats because the medical journalist "lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance."

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Gupta Draws Fire:
  2. A Celebrity SG:
Passing By:
Perhaps Conyers is concerned, having seen what poor CIty Council leadership and oversight has done to Detroit.
1.8.2009 11:02pm
Hoosier:
And Robert Byrd adds: "His name sounds fishy."
1.8.2009 11:13pm
Eric Muller (www):
I'm pulling for Dr. Drew.
1.8.2009 11:29pm
Wonk:
I'm just upset that Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was overlooked.
1.8.2009 11:33pm
Cornellian (mail):
I had my doubts, but Conyers' opposition makes me think I should be supporting this nomination.
1.8.2009 11:54pm
Moocow:
Gupta's criticism of Sicko was deserved, but he's still a hack journalist, and no better than Moore in many respects for seeking sensationalist stories. Gupta is symptomatic of the poor journalistic standards at CNN. This is the kind of "bright" mind Obama wants to have at his side? Please.

Democrats should oppose this nomination because Gupta doesn't seem to agree with the party line on healthcare reform. Republicans should oppose this nomination because Gupta is just more of the same pseudo-intellectual drivel that has been shoved down our throats by the new democratic elite. Anyone else with half a brain should oppose this nomination because Gupta is just a hack journalist. We're going to be chasing after all sorts of phantom ailments and searching for cures from voodoo witch doctors. No thanks.

So, have we learned anything yet? A Harvard Law degree does not mean you're some sort of supergenius. Some goddamned lawyers need to get over themselves, and I say this in the most loving way possible as a lawyer myself.
1.9.2009 12:07am
ll (mail):
Does he agree with former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders that: "We're probably all going to die of something."?
1.9.2009 12:14am
Awesome-O:
God, who cares? I'm serious.

This Gupta thing is what Obama likes to call a "distraction." Normally Obama's distractions are things that he doesn't want you to talk about because it might cause you to question the man's judgment. Don't pay attention to Rev. Wright; he's a distraction! Blagojavich? Never heard of him! Distraction!

This is a little different, though. Obama has been rolling out the bad news slowly: you might not get that tax cut, you can pretty much forget about getting Social Security, you're not going to get your Skittles-pooping unicorn. Amidst all the bad news, Obama needed a distraction, so he rolled out Gupta for the Surgeon General post.

Fine with me. Gupta seems likable enough, and his job is basically impossible to fuck up. But really, there are much bigger fish to fry here. If Rev. Wright was a distraction, then Gupta is, like, a distraction after hitting the gym for an 80's movie workout montage.
1.9.2009 12:24am
John Moore (www):
The Gupta pick makes sense. He's a doctor and a humanitarian. He is also well known to the public, and can communicate on TV.

Those are good starting qualifications.

I see no reason to fuss about this - especially when his boss just announced he plans to spend an additional $1,000,000,000,000 that the government doesn't have.

We are now seeing big government II, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Gupta is, as A-O says, a distraction.
1.9.2009 12:50am
Uncle Sol (mail) (www):
John Conyers should know if Dr. Gupta is unqualified, being himself the physical embodiment of the term.
1.9.2009 1:07am
bushbasher:
"Paul Krugman thinks Gupta wrongly criticized Michael Moore's film Sicko".

thinks? as if there's any doubt! gupta's report was the kind of slimy, thoroughly dishonest, knee-jerk america-ain't-that-bad crap which americans seem to believe is journalism.
1.9.2009 2:01am
Texas Lawyer:
Gupta is a neurosurgeon (&med-school professor) who also devotes substantial time to explaining health issues to the general public. That doesn't sound out of line for a Surgeon General.

C. Everett Koop was a pediatric surgeon before he was picked as SG. It's my understanding that he did not have significant experience in public health before he was tapped for the job (I believe he had served about a year as Dep. Asst. Sec. for Health). The main reason that he was picked was that he had taken a strong pro-life stance.

I don't know if Koop was a good or bad SG. But, other than Elders--who I remember because she was fired for promoting masturbation--I can't name one single SG. I'm not sure if we even have one now (I think I read it's only an acting SG). One can argue that the SG post is needed or not. But, assuming we have one, I think Gupta is a pretty good choice.

Also, I think he deserves recognition for his work as an embedded journalist with the "Devil Docs." (The Navy doctors who are assigned to work with the USMC). He was with their modern version of a MASH unit during the beginning of the Iraq war. It was close to the front lines. Normally, those units don't have neurosurgeons. On 5 occasions, Gupta stepped out of his journalist role and performed brain surgery. I believe that he saved at least one Marine who had been shot in the head. The article I read described him removing the bullet from his brain.

Conyers complains that Gupta is not a bureaucrat who worked his way up through the uniformed public health service. I imagine there are a number of those people who can be tapped as Gupta's chief deputy. But, assuming we want an SG who can connect with the American people like Koop did, I think Gupta is a great choice.

I understand many of the people on this site think that an SG in that mold is just the chief scold for the nanny state. That's a legitimate viewpoint, but it's not really Gupta specific.
1.9.2009 2:13am
Asher (mail):
I have some concerns on the basis of thispost (basically, Gupta wrote a book about how you can live to a hundred and the whole thing's a pack of pseudoscience).
1.9.2009 4:47am
Public_Defender (mail):
Being a TV doctor does seem to create a presumption that you're a vacuous idiot, but it should be a rebuttable presumption. Also, a large part of the surgeon general's job is PR, so I don't see how Gupta's experience explaining complicated medical stuff on TV is a disqualification.

These hearings will be interesting. Gupta could turn out to be a flop, but he could also turn out to be an inspired choice.
1.9.2009 5:37am
DiversityHire:
I was pulling for Dr. Dre.

Dr. Gupta should put a cap in the whole uniformed health service's ass. Dept. of Edumacation, too.

Incidently, I think the pissing match between congress and Obama puts McCain's campaign to shame.
1.9.2009 6:27am
Hoosier:
ll
Does he agree with former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders that: "We're probably all going to die of something."?

Which is statistically idiotic. Have any of us VCers ever died? Of anything?

Anyone?

I rest my case.
1.9.2009 7:06am
AntonK (mail):
Paul Krugman is a sicko.
1.9.2009 8:54am
therut (mail):
The whole office is a waste of any taxes I pay. Unnecessary clap trap.
1.9.2009 9:17am
Observer:
Now a candidate for office is being criticized for having criticized Michael Moore???? Is this a joke?
1.9.2009 9:18am
RomeoW (mail):
"The whole office is a waste of any taxes I pay. Unnecessary clap trap."

Yeah I don't get it either, Micky Mouse could be the surgeon general and not a darn thing would change in anyone's life.
1.9.2009 9:44am
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
Did Conyers really identify Krugman as a "Nobel Peace Prize award winning economist"?
1.9.2009 9:45am
Awesome-O:
Now a candidate for office is being criticized for having criticized Michael Moore???? Is this a joke?

I agree that Moore's a dope, but I have always wondered why we think that physicians have any special qualifications to opine on the economics of national health insurance programs.

Physicians know how to treat disease. They probably all have worthwhile opinions on the effectiveness and problems with medical education. Those in private practice know a bit about running a business. Those who move into administrative positions in hospitals will have greater business management insights. But none of these experiences or classroom or clinical education qualify doctors to discuss national health insurance policy at anything more than a trivial, anecdotal microeconomic level.
1.9.2009 9:47am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Maybe Bill Richardson can take the job?

As for Conyers, I am sure the Senate will pay a lot of attention to what House members think.

Maybe Conyers thinks the House votes on confirmations?
1.9.2009 9:59am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
BTW, without looking it up, who is the current Surgeon General? The one before that? Any since Elders?
1.9.2009 10:00am
Awesome-O:
BTW, without looking it up, who is the current Surgeon General? The one before that? Any since Elders?

And no one would remember Elders if she hadn't advocated teaching fish how to swim teenagers how to beat off.

No one can name any Surgeons General who isn't named Koop or Elders.
1.9.2009 10:20am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

And no one would remember Elders if she hadn't advocated teaching fish how to swim teenagers how to beat off.

No one can name any Surgeons General who isn't named Koop or Elders.



That's More's next film, "Beating Off With Sanjay Guppy".
1.9.2009 10:28am
Cornellian (mail):
And no one would remember Elders if she hadn't advocated teaching fish how to swim teenagers how to beat off.

Obviously a female Surgeon General, since no man would ever think that was something that required instruction.
1.9.2009 11:01am
Thales (mail) (www):
Is Dr. Crusher available (in ca. 1992 form)? I think the public, at least the male half, would pay rather more attention to their health.
1.9.2009 11:51am
Thales (mail) (www):
Incidentally, Elders was fired for saying uncomfortably true things about teen pregnancy, contraception and AIDS and also for advocating a medical (i.e. a rational) approach to the drug problem. Hopefully the next surgeon general can be similarly outspoken and retain job security.
1.9.2009 11:53am
Sarah (mail) (www):
By my count, in the last twenty years we've had 12 years of Surgeons General and 8 years of Acting Surgeons General. Even after going over the list I still only recognized three names (Elders, Koop, and Ehrlich.)

So I don't care. But it's funny to me that "He's The One" Democrats have such a problem with it. If the next four years are as entertaining as the last two months, I may be forced to regret my vote in the 2008 election.
1.9.2009 11:56am
don (mail):
The most interesting part of all this to me, is how most of the objections to Obama's appointments are coming from
Democrats, not Republicans. I'm a Dem and I voted for Obama and I hope he kicks some congressional democrat's ass.
1.9.2009 12:27pm
Awesome-O:
Sarah wrote:

But it's funny to me that "He's The One" Democrats have such a problem with it.

A substantial number of Obama's supporters have been indignant every waking moment for the past eight years. If they're not raging against the machine (or at least against a cog in it), they'll have nothing to do. They've got to pick a fight, even with The One. It's all they know.

I do wonder, though, how the perpetually indignant left is going to do when they don't have Bush to blame for every problem. Bush being out of office is going to leave a gaping hole in their lives. My guess is that they'll still manage to blame Bush for everything. In three years Obama's going to be explaining why he deserves to keep his job, and his supporters will tell us that every problem/failure was inherited from Bush.
1.9.2009 12:34pm
RebelRenegade:
He criticized Michael Moore and Dems don't like the pick? I'm sold.
1.9.2009 1:03pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
As a Republican in New York, I have to say I like the Gupta move. Not because I believe he has some sort of super-intellectual ability that qualifies him over any other physician in the country. But, because his job at CNN was to explain complicated issues to the American people and if he wants to be the next Koop or Elders, that skill will be extremely useful. Of course, instead we could get someone like the Commissioner of Health of the State of New York who put out this fine video defending Governor Paterson's tax on non-diet soda Personally I'd rather Gupta, at least he'd look like he had a clue...
1.9.2009 1:29pm
Michael B (mail):
Opposed by both Krugman and Conyers, presumably by Michael Moore as well, hmmmm ....

Still, more interesting and more troubling are the Holder, Holdren and Browner nominations. For example compare how Browner has recently been disappeared from the Socialist International website: before - now, disappeared. Not too excited about Sunstein either, least of all because of his wife, but that's more of an intuitive reaction against Sunstein's technocratic impulses than anything more substantial.
1.9.2009 2:04pm
NickM (mail) (www):
This would be the same John Conyers who spoke frequently at LaRouche organization gatherings (including their PAC) and who invited LaRouche-affiliated people to be half the witnesses at a public hearing he put on years ago on a DC public hospital? I can't think of a member of Congress whose opposition is more likely to make me support a nominee.

Nick
1.9.2009 4:17pm
Michael B (mail):
Coming back here, to be clear, in referring to Samantha Power (Sunstein's wife) above, I in no way whatsoever was intending to invoke a personal slight or discourtesy, not remotely so. The intention was solely to invoke ideological concerns, social/political ideas and concerns, such as those reflected in this brief video and which I deem to be incredibly myopic, tendentious and presumptuous in the extreme, reflective of an unbounded radicalism that additionally seeks to formulate and leverage that radicalism within the U.S. executive branch and via the United Nations.
1.9.2009 8:08pm

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